Blessed is the parish that has a person committed to ensuring that fresh flowers grace the altar each week. Arranging greenery and floral arrangements is one of the many unsung jobs in our parish communities. I have a dear friend, Julie, who lovingly finds time to do this task amid the many commitments of family, grand-children, and community. She describes the joy of finding seasonal blooms that help to bring God’s creation into our own created space. Weddings, funerals, feast days and ordinary Sundays are all enhanced with flowers.
Here in Canada, fresh flowers in the sanctuary are a treat of color and fragrance in the midst of our long, cold winters. I regularly buy a bouquet for home as a reminder that spring WILL eventually come! At Christmas, the rich redness of poinsettias and the green of pine branches contrast beautifully to the winter whiteness. The simple elegance of the Easter lily with its heady fragrance adds a rich layer of symbolism to the end of Lent’s sombreness. But, the casual bouquets of spring, summer, or autumn blossoms from a parishioner’s garden are my favourite – a real offering, indeed!
As with many things catholic, the flowers in a church can also be a cause of disagreement. One dear friend had a deep aversion to artificial flowers. When he became bishop of a small rural diocese, his staff teased him by stashing the tackiest of fake florals into his suitcase, drawers, and cupboards. Our youngest daughter got into the action and began mailing him envelopes of plastic petals. Of course, he returned the gesture in kind!
Some grumble at special holiday collections for flowers, believing they are an unnecessary or wasteful expense. In our own parish, the allergies of a past pastor and some parishioners have necessitated the banning of strong smelling flowers. One of the worst culprits was the Easter lilies….sigh. The plastic ones just aren’t the same.
Here’s a toast to all the skilled hands and gardener’s souls who grace our worship space with the beauty of nature!